Not So Clearly Dangerous
“Not So Clearly Dangerous”
Do those words catch the attention of you, the law
enforcement people of Nebraska?
Would those words catch the attention of the average consumer? What you are about to read is not about
a dangerous criminal, or a
dangerous operation, either of which you are likely familiar with. It is about a dangerous situation, and
this one, you may not see coming.
In your careers in law enforcement, you have trained extensively to deal with
dangerous circumstances to serve and protect the public. You have hours of education in
procedures, practices, and protocols to prepare for any situation. You rely on your knowledge, experience
and your equipment to enable you to do, quickly and decisively, what you are
trained to do. That’s what this is
about. One of your important pieces
of equipment; one that you likely have not given a second thought to, other than
basic maintenance-your vehicle. Be
it a car, truck, or SUV, all have highly designed and engineered passenger restraint and crash management
safety systems. I want to draw your
attention to something most people do not think about, after I recalled a
conversation with a Nebraska State Trooper on a Saturday morning in my shop,
while I was repairing a stone chip in his windshield.
The trooper was telling me that he had recently had the
windshield in his patrol car replaced, and how he already had been struck by a
rock causing a nasty little bull’s-eye.
I couldn’t help myself but
to ask a few questions while I worked.
“Just had it changed recently?”, I inquired.
“Yes” he replied, “very recently.”
Within the next few minutes, I had obtained enough information to be sure that this trooper was driving his patrol car in a totally unsafe condition for at least a few hours and possibly a few days or even a week after the installation.
Knowing that this man was trained to observe detail, I
asked the trooper pointed and detailed questions about the installation that he
had stood and witnessed. As I did, I began to explain to him the reasons
for my interest, and why he should be equally interested, since he likely pushes
his vehicle to the edge of the safety envelope frequently. He was interested, and was notable
irritated to say the least, when he learned what had happened to him.
I explained to him that the windshield in today's vehicles
is a major component of a highly engineered crash management system. During roof crush and rollover it
contributes as much as an extra sixty percent to roof support. In frontal collisions, the windshield is
the backboard for the passenger side airbag.
A passenger side airbag strikes the windshield when it deploys at speeds
of up to 200 miles per hour. Next
the windshield must also absorb the impact of the occupant and the airbag as
they both strike the windshield again in the following split second. This incredible force must be absorbed
by the windshield for the airbag to cushion and retain the occupants in a
collision. The means to achieve
this structural integrity is the bonding of the glass to the body of the car,
with automotive urethane auto glass adhesives.
In the case of the trooper, the installer released the car
to him in the time it took him to reassemble the car, his wipers, cowling, radio
antennae, and others small items, and the time it took him to complete the
paperwork. This took, in the
trooper’s best estimate, 20 minutes at the most. The only fast-cure urethane auto glass adhesive approved for
use by the manufacturer of the trooper’s car,
Ford Motor Co, is Essex Beta-Seal U216; it is the only fast-cure urethane
to pass Ford’s crash testing.
Beta-Seal is a two-component urethane adhesive.
This means it cures chemically, independent of and almost indifferent to,
temperature and humidity present.
The “Safe Drive Away Time,” time for proper cure, for Essex Beta-Seal is one
Beta-Seal has a unique packaging system and dispensing gun,
seeming to some to be akin to what you might see in a Star Wars movie. I showed the trooper a Beta-Seal
adhesive package, and our Beta-Seal applicator gun. With wide eyes at such a device, he
stated emphatically that this was NOT what was used on his car. I surmised that the installer had used a
one-part urethane adhesive system from what he could tell me about the package, container colors, dispensing system and
other details. One-part urethane
systems depend on moisture, and warmth, above freezing temperatures to cure. Generally, the colder the temperature,
the lower the humidity, and therefore the lower the oxygen level available for
cure. In addition, lower
temperatures slow the chemical reaction that occurs when curing takes place. In essence, , many one part urethanes
stop curing below freezing, and just sit there.
Until temperatures warm above freezing, they cannot, and given enough
time frozen, may not ever, cure properly.
I also showed the
trooper the curing times for Essex U400 urethane, the one-part urethane Ford
also approves, and the recommended cure times for that one part product. Knowing that even this product had not
been used on his patrol car, he was shocked to learn that his vehicle was not
safe to drive for a substantial amount of time after it had been returned to
him- a fact that was not divulged to him by the installer. With the temperature only above freezing for short periods
over the next few days, it is highly open to conjecture when the vehicle became
safe to drive. If we were correct
in identifying the adhesives the installer used, this problem would have been
avoided by following the adhesive manufacturers recommended cure times listed
with its products. However, that
would not have allowed the installer to give the trooper his car back quickly.
I further encroached upon the Saturday morning off-duty
time of this officer to show him photographs we are compiling and documenting of
the results of improper and poor windshield installations that my staff and I
witness regularly upon removal of cracked windshields from customers cars for
replacement. I showed him pictures
of improper and unacceptable installation materials, methods, and significant
rust resulting from installers lack of knowledge or lack of caring.
When my staff and I find results such as these in a
customer’s car, we immediately begin photographing and documenting what we have
found for the customer. In order to
perform a proper installation to return the car to it’s original structural
design, we explain why we must have additional time and procedures to “clean up
the mess” caused by the poor previous installation. Federal Regulations strongly discourage knowingly changing or
rendering inoperative any safety element designed into a motor vehicle. We cannot ignore “changes” made by a
poor previous installation. With
many manufacturers standards, specifications, and requirements being higher than
those of the government, the only safe approach is to adhere strictly to those
Original Equipment Manufacturer’s specifications. I hope that someday, our photo archive of poor installations
will be useful to the proper people, when it is realized that consumers are too
often receiving poor quality repairs without even realizing it, until they have
that fateful crash, but by then it is too late.
In February, 2000, ABC News 20/20 did a segment on poor
windshield installation. They
focused on how the result could threaten your life because the highly engineered
rolling safety capsules we call motor vehicles are so dependent on the
windshield to keep the occupants in the car so the rest of the life saving
systems can do their jobs. Alas, to
my disappointment, it has not left a lasting impression on consumers, which is
why we have devoted my business’s advertising effort to consumer education about
safety and quality.
In light of insurance companies implementation of “HMO”
type managed care packages for vehicles, and the formation of “approved”
installers who meet the insurers requirements,
this consumer education has become paramount to our business. Insurers rarely, if ever, do quality post-repair inspections of
work performed by their “approved” affiliate shops. In fact, it seems that all the insurer
ever checks is if the shop is installing glass at the insurer’s “pre-approved”
prices. Consumers do not know if
they have received a quality installation that they can, and may have to, bet
their lives on. “Managed Care” type
plans without any real verification of quality workmanship have become “Managed
Price” plans for insurers.
After ABC’s 20/20 segment on poor windshield installation (February 2000), you’d expect to find insurers looking hard for providers who do quality work. You’d also expect systematic post-repair inspections to ensure that insureds’ vehicle safety systems are absolutely returned to original structure and design. Finally, you’d expect extra effort to retain repairers who consistently provide quality installations to protect insurers’ precious market share. After all, safe repairs that keep customers and their offspring alive to become insurers’ future market share seem only logical.
Unfortunately, what we have is insurer hired Third Party
Administrators, (TPA) who “help” insureds go to “approved” shops. These “approved” shops being anyone that
have agreed with pricing in advance limited by insurers. The consumer doesn’t realize that there is no such thing in
Nebraska as an HMO for your car.
Additionally, some TPA’s are telling consumers that they may have to pay a
difference for choosing a shop that is NOT an insurer affiliate. Nebraska law guarantees the consumer the
right to choose, (Chapter 44-1540), and many times “non-approved” shops charge
less than insurer approved prices, while still excelling in quality. The consumer isn’t informed of this.
In his column “Around the Industry” from the
September/October issue of AutoGlass Magazine, Leo Cyr, a veteran of the auto
glass industry, and past vice president of Member Services for the National
Glass Association, speaking of some insurer ‘agreements’ with repairers, said,
“All [windshield] installations are not equal as was so
graphically shown by ABC's 20/20 news program in its recent expose on windshield
installation. The program
conclusively demonstrated what the AGR [Auto Glass Replacement] industry has
maintained all along--there are right ways and there are wrong ways to install a
windshield. If we were discussing
proper hubcap installation, this discussion would be moot. Who cares? Slap the darn thing in place and move
on. A windshield cannot be so easily dismissed. Windshields are an integral part of a
vehicle's structural integrity. If
the windshield dislodges in a collision or roll-over, the safety envelope
designed to protect vehicle occupants will be compromised.”
The balance of Cyr’s and other related articles can be
viewed from links at our website at www.acrglass.com.
So where does this leave all of you reading this? Hopefully, it leaves you with a handful
of simple questions to ask the next person who installs a windshield in your
vehicle for you, and the peace of mind that comes with the knowledge that you
have chosen a professional that views you as the customer, not a cost-saving
program which is self serving to someone other than to your safety and the
safety of your family. If you, as
that State trooper will next time, ask questions and demand the quality that
your car manufacturer designed into it’s crash management and safety restraint
systems, then I have done my job,
and we’ll both sleep better tonight.
Five Questions to ask your auto glass installer:
1. What brand
of glass are you going to install in my vehicle, and is it approved by my car
manufacturer as an authorized replacement to retain my warranty, and maintain
and restore the structural integrity of my car?
urethane adhesive are you going to use to install the new glass, and is it
approved by my car manufacturer to retain my warranty, and maintain and restore
the structural integrity of my car?
recommended procedures will you use, and are they approved by my car
manufacturer to retain my warranty, and maintain and restore the structural
integrity of my car?
4. What is the
recommended “Safe Drive Away Time” for the urethane adhesive you are using, and
please show me the urethane manufactures data of how you calculated it?
5. Do you
document the Data of the installation you will perform in my car, including the
glass installed, lot numbers of urethane adhesives/primers used, Safe Drive Away
Time, and other data of my glass installation?
How long do you keep those records?
Five Things an “Approved Installer” Probably Won’t Tell
1. We have
agreed to price with your insurer before you ever called us.
insurer/claims administrator has inspected our work. (They likely have not)
3. We signed
an agreement with your insurer and/or its claims administrator, assuming any of their liability and damages,
including punitive damages they may be liable for, if WE do poor repairs to your
4. We view
your insurer as our customer.
5. We agreed to drop our prices whenever your insurer tells us to.
What you should see beneath a proper
installation. Clean, uniform
urethane adhesive bed around perimeter of windshield.
Note the rust, caused by a poor installer, compromising 40% to 70% of the bond line along the roof. Would the windshield/bond be able to help support the roof in a rollover like this? Did the consumer have any indication it was like this? No, to both.
Note the windshield is in place after a
multiple rollover, and has done its job in added roof support. The belted driver walked away unharmed.
Note the windshield is completely missing,
following a poor installation due to improper adhesive primer application, and
vehicle release to the customer before the adhesive was sufficiently cured. (Cold weather stopped complete or
sufficient cure) Fortunately, the
unbelted driver was caught under the steering wheel and was not thrown from the
truck, or seriously injured.
Broken Windshield resulting from airbag
deployment. Normal result. Shows proper deployment and proper energy absorption by the
Broken Windshield resulting from Deer Impact. Note that passenger compartment is completely intact and was not compromised. Proper result of engineered life saving systems and proper bonded glass installation. Occupants had only very minor injuries.
Improper adhesive materials, incompatible
primers used by installer. You
should see a 600-800 p.s.i. shear strength bond, instead the adhesive peels away
from body with only minor pressure.
Airbag deployment or rollover would have resulted in immediate dislodging of
1004 East 10th
Alliance Nebraska 69301